MP responds after challenge to live 'more simply'

By staff writers
11 Apr 2007
John Battle MP

Labour's John Battle has become the first MP to respond to a challenge by a Catholic aid agency, to live more simply.

The Member of Parliament for West Leeds has promised to live on 99% of his income, donating the remaining one per cent to CAFOD to help people in the developing world who live in extreme poverty.

The MP has signed up to CAFOD’s 99% Challenge, a year-long fundraising initiative which is also one of CAFOD's livesimply promises, calling on people to make a pledge to change something in their lifestyle and to get others to do the same.

John was inspired to take up the challenge after inviting Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, the Archbishop of Jos in Nigeria, to talk to a group of MPs at Portcullis House in Westminster.

Archbishop Kaigama was in England as a guest of CAFOD to express his solidarity with the hundreds of people who have taken up the livesimply challenge - urging people to reflect on their lifestyles, and how they can live more simply, sustainably and in solidarity with those in poverty in developing countries.

The Archbishop spoke to the MPs about the daily poverty in his diocese of Jos, telling them how, as a boy, he fetched water from the only stream in his village of Kona.

"Today, 50 years on, this is still the only source of water for the village for cleaning, cooking and drinking and it is polluted water, unfit for human consumption, but the people have no choice but to use it.

"In Nigeria over 70% of the population lives on less than $1 a day (about 50p) and life expectancy is just 43 years," Archbishop Kaigama told the MPs.

In response to Archbishop Kaigama, John said: "People’s lifestyle choices here in the UK really do have an effect on people in developing countries - we are lucky to be able to make choices.

"livesimply is a welcome reminder to us as politicians that in our constituencies we need to continue to make connections between global issues and our local ones."

John Battle is also a member of the International Development Committee, holding government to account on the way it gives and monitors aid to the developing world.

He added: "Also with livesimply in mind, I would like to find ways to work more in solidarity with local politicians from the developing world, sharing experiences so as to better understand the obstacles they face in serving their communities."

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